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Wednesday, March 20 , 2019, 2:52 pm | Partly Cloudy 63º


Milpas Street Medical Marijuana Dispensary Faces Another Santa Barbara Challenge

In advance of Planning Commission hearing, critic appeals latest approval and asks for operating permit to be revoked

A medical marijuana dispensary proposed for 118 N. Milpas St. in Santa Barbara has been the subject of a long-running dispute with a neighboring property owner. Click to view larger
A medical marijuana dispensary proposed for 118 N. Milpas St. in Santa Barbara has been the subject of a long-running dispute with a neighboring property owner. (Joshua Molina / Noozhawk photo)

The fight isn’t over yet for a medical marijuana dispensary planned for North Milpas Street on Santa Barbara’s Lower Eastside.

Pete Dal Bello, who owns property near the proposed site at 118 N. Milpas St., has filed a 21-page appeal letter of the most recent approval of the project, including 20 bullet points outlining why he believes dispensary owner Ryan Howe’s permit should be revoked.

Dal Bello cited reasons such as a lack of environmental review, failure to provide public notice, high crime in the area, along with several other allegations, including that “Mr. Howe’s character/management can’t be trusted.”

The Planning Commission hearing is Thursday at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.

Dal Bello, an animated character who frequently speaks during the public comment portion of City Council meetings, is a Santa Barbara native and has resisted Howe’s dispensary plans at every step of the way.

Howe’s dispensary was originally approved in 2016. Dal Bello appealed that approval, but was rejected before the Planning Commission. Now, he’s appealing a different kind of action, in his attempt to block the project.

Susan Reardon, the city’s staff hearing officer, opted not to revoke Howe’s permit even though someone affiliated with the dispensary attempted to change corporate officers without prior approval from the city.

Howe said he did not authorize, nor have any knowledge of, any attempt to change the corporate officers of the Canopy Club, which is listed as the occupant of the dispensary project site.

Although Howe was supposed to be the only management and corporate officer in the operating plan, as approved in the original articles of incorporation, two attempts to add the names of Thomas Martin and Daniel Winkler as secretary were made in May and July of last year.

Howe said a clerk for his former attorney, Joe Allen, filed the paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office to change the statements of information, without his knowledge.

Reardon said she didn’t seen any proof of intent to change the corporate officers so she couldn’t make a decision to revoke the permit. The city must do background checks on management and corporate officers.

Dal Bello, however, is using Reardon’s decision not to revoke the permit as an attempt to derail the project.

He said he is not against medical marijuana, but that the Milpas site is too close to residences and schools, including Adelante Charter and Franklin schools three blocks away, as well as Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High.

Dal Bello, who has been diagnosed with Chiari malformation, a neurological disorder that causes pain, founded the International Chiari Association.

“I have seen firsthand how medical marijuana can help people with chronic pain,” he said. “I myself suffer from this condition. It took doctors eight years to diagnose it in me. It was a long and painful period.

“Without detection and medical intervention, I would now be in a wheelchair.”

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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